As I noted yesterday, Gerry Connolly, the freshman representative from Virginia’s 11th, is one of a handful of vulnerable Democrats in the state. In the Republican primary, which was thought to be competitive, businessman Keith Fimian faced off against Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity, whose father was a legendary and beloved figure in the county.
This was not the year to run an establishment insider. Fimian cruised to a huge double-digit win. Herrity said Fimian was too conservative, a losing argument in an off-year primary when the most devoted Republicans turn out to vote. Fimian accused Herrity of raising taxes, and that seemed to gain traction. Lesson: run as an outsider, adamantly opposed to tax increases.
Fimian and Connolly will stage a rematch of the 2008 contest. Then Connolly won by 11 points, with Obama carrying the district by 15 points. But this time around, Obama isn’t on the ballot to drive turnout and is a drag on his party, not a boost. Connolly will try to separate himself from the Washington spend-a-thon, but his record speaks for itself. Republicans smell a pickup. We’ll see how smart a race Fimian runs. He at least has the experience of beating one insider who was vulnerable on the tax issue.